La Cucina, Limerick

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Some restaurant rooms are the hubs, the heartbeats, of our culinary culture.
La Cucina is one of those hubs, the place where the heart beats fast and loud.
Places like La Cucina change how people behave. Just look at the room, for example, on this Friday night. It’s jammers. Not busy jammers, but crazy jammers. People are hugger mugger in the space, waiting in line like sardines in a can for their takeaways, packed into the tables and chairs of the newly refashioned room as they study the menus and decide what to eat.
Irish people, traditionally, don’t like to be this close to one another in a restaurant – a crowded bar is a different case – but in La Cucina being this close to one another is what it is all about. It’s liberating, and exciting, and it creates the dynamic that powers this mighty room: up close, and personal.
And the personal bit is thanks to the staff. Bruno and Lorraine Coppola train all their own staff, so you might start here as a KP and find that they see you have the talent to be front-of-house. So, they train you up, which means that everyone works the la Cucina way: smiles, informal, efficient, charming in a true and real way.
And Bruno Coppola’s food nails the bliss point with every plate. Fresh tagliatelle with porcini and Italian sausage is really an ode to superb pasta which is showered with rich mushrooms, a real belter of a dish that showcases the art of pasta cookery, with the flavours beautifully conjoined.
Pizza with red onion and cavalo nero comes unsliced – their advice is to tear off pieces with your fingers – and again the simple ingredients shout loud. We also tried an anti pasti plate of cured meats and cheeses with excellent sourdough bread, a bruschetta with the somewhat surprising mixture of roasted squash and roasted tomatoes, and a wizard lemon meringue tart which the kitchen buy in from a wizard Limerick lemon meringue tart maker.
The redesign of the room has given them an extra five seats, but the real triumph of the makeover is that the room feels leaner and brighter, bigger and better. It’s still La Cucina, but not as you know it: it’s La Cucina Max.